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Trump Announces 1st Overseas Trip; State Senator Pushes for NY Law Making Politicians Like Trump Release State Tax Returns; Special Report to Air on Aaron Hernandez Suicide. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired May 5, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:32:59] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump, instead of going to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, heading to his New Jersey golf course for the weekend. This morning, he woke up at his golf club in the town of Bedminster, his first trip back to this part of the country since moving into the White House. He even tweeted about it, saying he's saving taxpayers time and money by skipping Manhattan's Trump Tower. Let me read the tweet. Quote, "Rather than causing a big disruption in New York City, I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend. Saves the country money." That was not a ton of comfort to a couple local pastors who made their feelings known during this small demonstration.
The president also announced his first foreign trip. We have learned, later this month, he will visit the Vatican, Israel and Saudi Arabia, ahead of travels to NATO and the G-7 meeting.
Let's talk specifically on this overseas travel with Elise Labott.
Just a little context. Looking back to previous presidents' first trips, Obama, Canada. Bush 43, Mexico. Clinton, Canada. Bush 41, Canada. Reagan, Mexico. He's not going to either. Is this surprising to you?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's not surprising but it certainly as you point out is unusual. Look, this is in the process of President Trump saying he wants to renegotiate NAFTA or perhaps if that doesn't work, maybe pull out of it. So these are very contentious relationships. Look, the Mexican president was supposed to come to the United States on an early visit as they usually do. That was scrapped because of a lot of President Trump's comments on the wall. I'm not necessarily sure he would be warmly welcomed in Mexico and certainly the president there, that would be a very politically divisive visit for him to host President Trump. President -- Prime Minister Trudeau came for an early visit here at the White House. Obviously, they had a decent relationship but that's also something very fraught. I think President Trump, by going to Israel, going to Saudi Arabia, going to the Vatican, is also trying to kind of broaden what he sees as the U.S. national security interests. You have Saudi Arabia very important in the fight against ISIS. Israel, he's obviously made the peace process one of his early issues that he wants to focus on.
[14:35:22] BALDWIN: Let me stop you there. On Israel, we just heard he met with Mr. Abbas this week, he said, I'm paraphrasing, how easy the Middle East peace process will be.
LABOTT: Right. I think he's going to find it's not so easy. Listen, President Trump all these years has really seen the conflict through an Israeli lens. That's mostly the people he's been talking to when they heard about Israeli issues and how Israelis are fighting terrorism and he's really going to get an education when he goes to the Palestinian territories, meets with President Abbas there and learns more about the Palestinian story. He's going to confront this wall between Israeli and the Palestinian territories. He's spoken about how great that wall is to keep bad guys out but when you look through the Palestinian lens, they look out their windows and see a gray wall, which stops them from moving, from going into Israel. We are not just talking about those terrorists, we are talking about all Palestinians. It will be a real education for President Trump. As he learns more about it, he will find this is not so easy. This is not as he has said in the past, akin to a real estate deal. This is one of the most complex issues in the world. That's why it's bedeviled so man presidents. There's a lot of goodwill on both sides so we'll see if he can pull it off. It won't be just like that.
BALDWIN: Elise, good to see you. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, could a new proposal in New York require President Trump's state tax returns to be published for all to see? We will talk to the state Senator pushing for that, next.
Also later, new chilling details on exactly what was found inside of Aaron Hernandez's prison cell on the night he hanged himself.
[14:41:34] BALDWIN: So many times, then-candidate, now President Trump has been asked, will you release your tax returns. His answer has typically been along these lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not releasing the tax returns because as you know, they're under audit.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Every president since the '70s --
TRUMP: I never heard that. Gee, I never heard that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: As president, sir --
TRUMP: The only one that cares about my tax returns is the reporters.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You don't think the American public cares?
TRUMP: I don't think so. I won.
TRUMP: I became president. I don't think they care at all.
TRUMP: I don't think they care at all. I think you care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: OK. Let me tell you about this proposal. This is from some New York State lawmakers who could make President Trump's state tax returns public right now. It's an idea that is the brain child of this University of Chicago law professor whose op-ed legal paper convinced one state Senator that it could hold up in court.
He is Brad Hoylman. He is with me now.
Senator, nice to meet you.
STATE SEN. BRD HOYLMAN, (D), NEW YORK: Nice to see you.
BALDWIN: Tell me how you think you can pull this off on the state level.
HOYLMAN: We think we can pull it off by simply passing a law. Current law in New York state doesn't allow state tax returns to be released publicly. We can amend the law and are proposing to do that to require all state office holders tax returns be released for five years previous and subsequently moving forward.
BALDWIN: So what kind of information would one see in a state tax return that might be different, because people wanted to see them to see charitable donations, how much he's paid in taxes. What would be indicated?
HOYLMAN: I think you will see a lot of what you see in a federal return. Anyone who fills out a state return knows a lot of that is copied directly from the federal return. Certainly, personal income tax information will be revealed in a state return. Whether Donald Trump actually pays taxes or not will be revealed in a state return.
BALDWIN: Here in New York, got a lot of Democrats, which would help your cause, but this is a man who is not afraid to fight. This is a man who is not afraid to spend money and go to court. Couldn't he challenge this, constitutional challenge to what you are trying to do?
HOYLMAN: Certainly, he could. But we feel it is on firm ground. After all, taxes have been released in decades previous, actually all liabilities used to be posted on the courthouse door back in colonial times and in the 1920s, liabilities used to be printed in newspapers. We think we are on firm constitutional ground. Also this bill wouldn't apply just to Donald Trump. It would apply to --
BALDWIN: Any state official?
HOYLMAN: Any state-wide office holder in New York. Governor, Andrew Cuomo releases his taxes, credit to him, as does the attorney general, the comptroller and U.S. Senators.
BALDWIN: What about the facts who will come out screaming privacy, this is not OK, you shouldn't force all the state officials to divulge information when ultimately your idea is to get Trump information.
HOYLMAN: There is no privacy as it pertains to your tax returns. Certainly, any person --
BALDWIN: Some people would disagree.
HOYLMAN: Any personal information in connection with minors or addresses or spouses, that could be addressed in this law.
BALDWIN: How do you plan on starting this process?
HOYLMAN: We have a lot of support. We have dozens of both Senators and assembly members who are supporting this legislation but more importantly, the American people, over 60 percent of Republicans support tax disclosure for the current president. Again, this is more about Donald Trump. This is about the highest office in the land, the taxpayer in chief, and knowing if he pays his fair share of taxes like the rest of us.
[14:45:06] BALDWIN: Brad Hoylman, thank you so much. State Senator here in New York. Appreciate your time.
HOYLMAN: Thanks so much.
BALDWIN: We will follow up with you and see how it goes.
Coming up next, we have chilling new details about what was found inside former NFL star Aaron Hernandez's prison cell on the night he killed himself, what was etched on the walls and found on the floor. Those details, next.
BALDWIN: We are learning today some new details about the prison suicide of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez. According to these new reports, not only did Hernandez make it difficult to enter his cell to help him, because he blocked the door and tossed a bunch of soap on the floor, shampoo. But once they were inside, officers found a scene with drawings and rhymings on his cell wall which appeared to be in blood. Hernandez was found hanging in his Massachusetts prison cell on April 19th. Just a few days earlier a jury had found the former New England Patriot football player not guilty of a double murder. Hernandez was already serving life for a previous murder conviction.
Jean Casarez is covering these developments.
I mentioned some of the details of how he was found, but tell us more.
[14:50:16] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are so many more. The death investigation is now closed. They have released a report and the things we found out are just amazing. First, the timeline. He went to his cell for the last time at 8:00 at night. That would be on April 18th. There's video surveillance to show that no one else came into the cell after that. At 1:00, there was a cell check but then at 3:00, another cell check. At that point, there was a sheet that was across the door of Hernandez's cell. The corrections officer yelled, "Get the sheet down." Nothing happened. So he poked it. The sheet went down and there was the naked body of a hanging Hernandez with a bed sheet attached to the window. There was a lot of blood.
We want to show some people the photos that were just released right now. There was the outside of the Bible of Aaron Hernandez and there is a substance that appears to be blood on that Bible. Also, it was opened and you saw right there, that's the outside of the Bible. Inside the Bible, it is open to the verse John 3:16 and there was what they say is blood on that. The writing of the Bible verse of chapter 3, verse 16, was written on the wall. It was written on his forehead in ink. The soles of his feet had two round circles of blood on either one of them.
And there were interviews done on that day, the day that his body was found by other inmates. They said he was happy, that he was positive. They also said some very telling things. We want to show everybody here. It says quote, "The inmates stated that Hernandez came to his door before lock-in and stated, this is that night," hours before his body was found, quote, "remember when you die, your soul gets reincarnated." Another said that Hernandez had said you know, there was a rumor I heard, a rumor I heard that, quote, "If an inmate has an open appeal on his case, and dies in prison, he is acquitted of his charge and will be deemed not guilty."
Brooke, that's a court action happening right now because the defense wants the charges dismissed outright, the conviction dismissed, to say that he died basically an innocent man. Prosecutor doesn't want that. But Jose Baez is now instituting an independent investigation because he believes this has not been professional, from beginning to end, and that makes someone question whether other things are correct in all of this report.
BALDWIN: As you are talking about all this, a reminder to everyone here, CNN -- let's go ahead and throw the full screen up -- CNN has a special report on Aaron Hernandez and how his suicide has shocked America. You can watch "Downward Spiral" at 11:00 eastern tonight.
Jean Casarez, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, back to politics. The health care bill that passed the House, some of the language in it has survivors of sexual assault worried, worried that they may not be covered because in the news regarding pre-existing conditions. We will talk to a survivor. Her thoughts today, coming up.
[14:57:32] BALDWIN: It has now been more than five weeks since the city of Atlanta watched in awe as its 40-foot wall of flame and thick black smoke collapsed a bridge on Interstate 85, its main interstate through the city. Even more stunning is the fact that no one was even injured in this fiery collapse. This happened during rush hour. And very brave Atlanta police officers and firefighters risked their lives to keep drivers safe.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more on this week's "Beyond the Call of Duty."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flames were so huge and the smoke was so black.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know what's burning. It's up under 85 bridge.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of people just trying to get home suddenly a massive fire in their path, stuck on a crumbling interstate bridge. A city seemingly paralyzed, except for a few first responders, who answered the call that two officers spotted a fire under a bridge. They had no clue just how dangerous the situation was about to get.
OFC. TYLER THOMAS, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Came over the radio and said we've got a fire under 85.
JAMES MCLEMORE, ATLANTA FIRE BATTLION CHIEF: Got a second alarm. We immediately headed out here. There was so much black smoke, it wasn't until I really got close to the city, I could see the flames.
GALLAGHER: The flames did not stop the Officer Tyler Thomas from jumping out of his patrol car while his supervisor, Sgt. Ryan Heel, drove to the highway to cut off traffic, Thomas ran up an embankment to get people out of harm's way.
(on camera): You were so focused on making sure basically nobody crosses this line.
THOMAS: We focus on the task at hand. My task at hand was to get people away.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): And then.
THOMAS: We kept hearing many explosions. UNIDENTIFIED ATLANTA POLICE OFFICER: It was very hot. Fire does not
do well with concrete.
UNIDENTIFIED ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: We are not structural engineers. We are cops.
GALLAGHER: But Atlanta fire battalion chief, James McLemore, does.
MCELMORE: Boom, boom, boom. You could hear it. That's the sound.
GALLAGHER: He increased the collapse zone moving everyone out from underneath the interstate bridge. Minutes later --
MCELMORE: Boom! We could easily have buried people in there.
GALLAGHER: While the damage was extreme, not one person was injured that day. Many, including the president, credit the responders' quick thinking and willingness to run into danger as the reason why.
TRUMP: Your skill and courage saved many lives and represented true strength.
MCLEMORE: When you get the call from the president's office, that's like a whole other -- that's a game changer.
GALLAGHER: Still, these guys say --
UNIDENIFIED ATLANTA POLICE OFFICER: We greatly appreciate it, but it's not warranted.
GALLAGHER (on camera): Do you feel heroic?
MCLEMORE: I just feel like it's part of my job. I've done my job.
GALLAGHER: Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia.